Have you seen a shitty movie recently? Possibly a movie that was on TV starring Jean-Claude Van Damme or Arnold Schwarzenegger or one of their all-American counterparts? Or maybe it was a romantic comedy starring Hugh Grant or Julia Roberts, or a lame drama starring a bunch of pussy cry baby Hollywood dweebs… Whatever it was, you were reaching for something sharp to slit your wrists with by the end.

And you were pissed off. You felt cheated: Throughout the whole movie you felt that little voices planted behind the dialogue by the assistant director were coming out through your Dolby Digital Surround system and subliminally telling you “This is a good movie. It deserves the billions it made at the box office. The people behind it aren’t laughing all the way to the bank, they truly tried to express something here.” You knew then and there that this couldn’t be true. You stopped listening to the voices for long enough and watched with a clear head, free of the evil assistant director’s subliminal suggestions and you realized that what was on your TV screen was in fact a turd. A turd which cost the GNP of several African countries to make, a turd whose creators had done everything in their power to shine, but a turd nevertheless. That’s what pissed you off: They told you it was gold but it turned out to be shit. And that’s what pisses me off about shitty movies as well.

Now don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against shit. Shit is fine as long as you’ve chosen it and it hasn’t been sold to you at a ridiculous price as gold or candy or something else, which you’re told isn’t shit. And that is what is wrong with a lot of Hollywood films: the story is shit, the screenplay is shit, the directing is full of sort-of-impressive tricks but is basically shit and the acting is shit, but the film is marketed as if it’s some sort of masterpiece. This is perfectly logical; those guys down in Hollywood have to make a living too, but the whole deal pisses me off because it’s hypocrisy.

This is where the Zombie Movie comes in. As far as I have seen, there is no hypocrisy surrounding Zombie Movies- they never had any pretensions of being masterpieces. You know from before with a Zombie Movie that the acting, plot, effects and dialogue are probably going to suck, but you’re ok with that because Zombie Movies offer something far far better, and that something is endless savage violence: painful deaths of stupid characters, blood, guts, brains, stuff that flies out of body parts and looks like mashed potato and, of course, more blood.

Frankly, the only criterion one needs to judge a Zombie Movie is the amount of violence in the film. It is in fact more enjoyable to watch a Zombie Movie if it has a terrible script and bad acting, as long as there is enough gore to see you through. However, let’s not forget some of the details that contribute to a fine Zombie Movie:

1. A decaying hand rising through the earth covering a grave. I have seen this scene countless times and I have never grown tired of it.
2. Original depiction of gore. Violence is always welcome but it is even more enjoyable when it is different that the usual. Remember the almost decapitated nurse zombie in "Braindead" whose head kept on falling off and hanging from the neck by a piece of skin? That’s what I’m talking about.
3. The funny death of an irritating character. Another great thing about Zombie Movies is that almost everyone dies by the end, so that irritating minor character in the beginning of the film is sure to have an unpleasant time further on.
4. Undead organs which although no longer connected to a body still move around and continue to kill. Bring to mind the lethal large intestine in "Braindead".
5. A Zombie performing cunnilingus to a pretty young blonde who is tied to a surgeon’s table by holding his severed bloody decaying head between her legs. Drooling is optional.

Notice that the words ‘quality’, ‘good’ and ‘taste’ do not appear anywhere. This is because these words cannot be used to judge a Zombie Movie. A Zombie Movie needs these words like I need a clamp on my balls. A Zombie Movie is by definition shit and will not try to present itself as anything other than shit. It’s that simple- that’s why a Zombie Movie will always be enjoyable and never be pretentious.

Read any review of the zombie movie genre, and you'll hear the same wanking crap about how zombies hold up a mirror to conformity and society. Shuffling, brain-dead automatons wander around, singular in purpose: consume. Oh no, the monsters were us all along!

Blah blah blah. Movie critics and film students have been spouting that garbage ever since George Romero's Dawn of the Dead, which was specifically designed to hold up said mirror by setting the script in a shopping mall. The only trouble with that theory is that the movie-going public has obviously not been looking into the mirror because they still shuffle, brain-dead, into movie theaters to watch dreck starring Will Farrell or Adam Sandler. So, apparently, this has nothing to do with the actual public's attraction.

This little idea fits so well into the pretentious worldview of the over-educated that they continue to apply it regardless of the fact that Dawn of the Dead was the only zombie movie that it really applies to in any significant way. Most other zombie movies are about either:

  1. The breakdown of trust as people hide their infected wounds, compete for limited resources, and use the opportunity to grab power, or
  2. The irrational importance people place on bodies as characters find themselves reluctant to destroy the lifeless but dangerous shells of former friends and loved ones.

The real reason people like zombie movies is the same reason they like Rambo, or more recently, Frank Miller's 300. It's an adolescent power fantasy. Zombies aren't dangerous except in overwhelming numbers. Everyone who watches a zombie movie envisions himself grabbing a chainsaw or a cricket bat and going to town on a crowd of slow-moving targets with heads that split open suspiciously easily. As a nice bonus, there are no moral issues for our modern excessively Politically Correct society to wrestle with like there would be with dangerous animals or humans (even "evil" humans — oh dear, how do we know it's not just a big misunderstanding?).

The meme is unsurprisingly widespread. Witness The Zombie Survival Guide by Max Brooks, or e2's own How to Survive Against Zombies article. It's fun to plan for emergencies when the solution is so simple and straightforward, and involves an impregnable fortress and blunt weapons. Search any of the Internet's many free Flash game sites like Armor Games and you're sure to find a plethora of zombie survival games. It's a natural fit for video games, they all tend to be about incredibly powerful protagonists rampaging through an unending horde of mindless, easily killed enemies anyway.

The recent move toward fast zombies — which may have started with Return of the Living Dead (an unbelievably influential zombie movie considering how few people have actually seen it) but went mainstream with 28 Days Later — just upped the ante a little bit. Zombies are still only dangerous in overwhelming numbers, but the required numbers are a little smaller than they were before. They still drop like flies in the face of sustained automatic weapons fire since their only tactic is human wave.

For me, the final nail in the coffin of the conformity mirror theory was the 2004 remake of Dawn of the Dead. I challenge anyone to find overtones of mindless living-human style conformity in the zombies in that movie... there are none. Unlike the original, where the zombies invaded the shopping mall not to find the survivors, but because it was a familiar and important place from their human lives, they're an uncomplicated horde of flesh-eating threats set against a plucky band of survivors and a convenient excuse for a blood-splattered gore-fest. And yet critics were still playing the conformity mirror card, robbing it of its last few threads of credibility.

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